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Old 11-17-12, 10:09 AM   #1
eappleton1
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28mm on the c&o

Hi all,

I'm interested in riding the c&o canal trail as part of a cross country trip. We would be going in early May. We're riding cross checks with 28mm tires and carrying front/back panniers. Does this seem doable?

Eric
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Old 11-17-12, 10:40 AM   #2
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It will depend to some extent on the condition of the trail at the time. It can get pretty muddy and rutted.
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Old 11-17-12, 10:45 AM   #3
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Look at the weather forecast..
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Old 11-17-12, 10:48 AM   #4
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It will depend to some extent on the condition of the trail at the time. It can get pretty muddy and rutted.
Agreed, if it's dry >>>you're fine, if it's a mess like it was the time I rode it, I found my 26' x 1 1/2" tires (38 mm) to be barely adequate.
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Old 11-17-12, 09:03 PM   #5
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I road the C&O last year starting May 1st. Got rained on every day. I would suggest a wider tire, but it isn't impossible. I saw others riding very skinny tires (patch kit, spare tube and pump will most likely be needed).

You just have to realize there will most likely be a lot of muddy trail. What ever you choose, mud guards would be nice, but if you have them on the bike, make sure there is plenty of room to get your hand in to pull the muddy glop out.
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Old 11-17-12, 09:55 PM   #6
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I road the C&O last year starting May 1st. Got rained on every day. I would suggest a wider tire, but it isn't impossible. I saw others riding very skinny tires (patch kit, spare tube and pump will most likely be needed).

You just have to realize there will most likely be a lot of muddy trail. What ever you choose, mud guards would be nice, but if you have them on the bike, make sure there is plenty of room to get your hand in to pull the muddy glop out.
I forget what the exact ranking is as far a rain but this region is one of the top rainiest in the country. As far as the rest of the world... From what I have heard it gets more rainy days than England.

Forget about checking the forecasts too. Long range forecasts, even by a few days are a joke in this region. A life long resident and avid boater, told me that it has something to do with the bay, the nearby mountains and other geography that makes the region a forecasters nightmare. Apparently the closer you get to the bay the worse it gets on predictions.
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Old 11-18-12, 12:14 AM   #7
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I've only ridden on the section close to DC which has a fair amount of gravel over the dirt. Rode about 15 miles once with 28 mm tires & the rough ride gets fatiguing on wrists & butt after a while. There are some rocks & bumps, not really possible to avoid them all. The more rural parts may have less gravel but more mud. So it's probably doable but perhaps not too fun. Perhaps you could but some wider tires for the C & O? Re rain, yes it can get rainy in spring but OTOH this year was pretty dry & some of recent years also. Good luck.
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Old 11-18-12, 07:15 PM   #8
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The farther you get from DC, the less substrate used for the trail (it's dirt and mud and not crushed limestone which is often used on rail to trails), unless it has changed in the last couple years.
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Old 11-18-12, 07:46 PM   #9
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Are you really going to change your tires mid-tour? Hell yes it's doable. There are probably better tire choices out there but they will work just fine. You may have to get off the bike in some sections, but that's no big deal. On my last tour the crushed limestone trail was covered in half a foot of water. No tire was riding through it. I just walked off to the side and didn't even get muddy.

On second thought, why not put fatter tires on those cross-checks? You are bound to hit more gravel roads along the way and wider tires make rough roads much more enjoyable at a negligible efficiency loss. You will be negligibly slower on asphalt, but much faster on rough stuff. Fat tires are really nice to tour on.
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Old 11-19-12, 05:27 AM   #10
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Thanks, all. It doesn't seem like the C&O is the right choice for us, regardless of the tire size. We'll come back some other time when we're carrying less.

Eric
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Old 11-19-12, 06:02 AM   #11
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Thanks, all. It doesn't seem like the C&O is the right choice for us, regardless of the tire size. We'll come back some other time when we're carrying less.

Eric
Good luck with whatever route you wind up using.

Just in case you aren't completely decided... If my observations are typical lots of folks carry a lot of gear on the C&O so that may not be a good reason to avoid it.

If you should change your mind... On a coast to coast trip you could use the C&O or regular roads based on the weather and trail conditions when you get there. Also, you could start with the C&O and and change your mind any number of places along the way.

The C&O isn't really my cup of tea, but it might be a nice change of pace on a long road tour. That said, I wouldn't go very far out of my way to ride it on a coast to coast tour.
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